How to Cheaply and Easily Make Your Own Bread
It is my ultimate destiny to bake bread: I am too broke to buy it every day, and bread is delicious. It is only a natural progression. Unfortunately, said natural progression didn’t happen so naturally. Initially, I wanted to blame most of my inability at baking bread (actually, all of it) on being Jewish (because Matzo bread jokes).
(Then I remembered that Challah existed, and I realized my jokes wouldn’t make any sense, anyway.)
Turns out I’m better at writing than baking bread (or thinking of topical jokes), so logically, I have decided to document my journey and blog about it.
In all my years of indigence it had never occurred to me to bake my own bread. Yes, ok, in France it would have been a sacrilege (which is a French word that I know) since there, the bread is just so stupid delicious. Here, however, it’s meh. And like they say, there’s no better time than the meh time.
(Also known as: “if not now, then meh?”)
Baking bread is really easy, cheap, fast, and a much healthier option than the Wonderbread you can get for the same price in the States, or in Spain for that matter (here known as “Bimbo”).
(In case you were wondering, if you type “Bimbo,” into Google you get a combination of pictures of white sliced bread and scary naked blonde women. If you type in “Mitt Romney” you get the same result.)
I will also include a Handy Dandy Picture Recipe in case you are just as failure-prone as I am, so that you, differently than I, can hide it. Instead of, you know, blogging about it.
(I do it for you, my children of the internet.)
To bake bread, you 1) activate the fresh yeast by mixing it in a container with flour, sugar and warm water, 2) cover it for about 45 minutes while it rises, 3) mix a larger amount of flour, sugar and salt in a big bowl, 4) add the leavened yeast mixture, 5) stir and knead until it becomes dough, 6) cover it and leave it in a warm place, and then 7) bake it! Before baking it, you can even choose to do a second rising, which is a lot less jesus-y than it sounds. Essentially, this just consists of 6.5) lightly punching the dough to let some of the air out (and for some other real reasons of which I am not aware), before letting it rise again.
ATTEMPT 1 i.e. my angry complaint to the yeast that did not rise at all, thereby causing my dough to remain shamefully small:
You are a dick. Way to staunchly refuse to do the one thing you do best and not rise to the challenge (heh). Knowing that you are, in fact, alive, I can only hope that you are sentient enough so that this letter comes off as sternly scathing and detached. Sincerely, R.
Basically, my first attempt at making dough consisted of adding too much salt right from the get -go (because mmm sodium). Turns out, (lesson 1) fresh yeast hates salt. Long story short, I awoke to see that the dough I had left overnight had remained itty bitty.
Had I baked it, the bread would have been too dense. Instead, I flattened it out, covered it in butter, and fried it. It turned out not to be the worst thing I’ve ever made. Also, my Swiss roommate ate it out of pity and he did not die, which everyone knows to be the global standard of whether something is a Wild Success or not.
ATTEMPT 2 i.e. a slightly less exciting, more subtle failure of simply baking the bread for too long:
What began fairly well, ended with roommate S coming home to find me sitting in front of the oven, watching the bread bake, because I ain’t no sucker. To be fair, I had had an exceedingly unlucky day, and I was legitimately concerned that I might accidentally set fire to myself, to the house, and to my still-alive Swiss roommate. Which I did not do, meaning I again enjoyed a Wild Success.
This time, although the dough had risen, I had baked it for too long, so the bottom of the bread had become a little blackened. As my roommate told me once she found me, “Oh, didn’t I tell you? (lesson 2) The best way to tell when bread is done is to tap on the bottom – if it sounds hollow, it’s ready!”
ATTEMPT 3 i.e. WILD SUCCESS BUT FOR REAL:
To be noted: I use fresh yeast, because my roommate had it, and I am broke. As I mentioned previously, when you use fresh yeast, you have to activate it (yes, like a death ray) with warm water, sugar and flour (like I said, like a death ray), and THEN you make dough with it.
(Please excuse the quality of the pictures. I’ve tried to make them look less terrible by making them black and white, which I think just gives the whole process a doom-like, Ingmar Bergman feel.)
And behold! BRED.